Planning Community Involvement
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
CERT is a community based organization of residents who learn how to take emergency response actions in safe ways until the professional emergency responders can respond. These citizens learn how to work in a coordinated manner caring for those citizens within their community affected by a disaster. The Division of Emergency Management has trained over 3200 CERTs throughout Palm Beach County in disaster preparedness, disaster medical services, light urban search and rescue for trapped citizens, disaster communications, disaster psychology and terrorism.
Most people are not prepared to deal with even the most minor medical emergencies. Whether due to disaster or encountered in everyday life, they may experience problems. After a major emergency, citizens will come forth in groups to help. Unfortunately, without properly training these people can expose themselves to potential injury and even death.
In the aftermath of a major disaster such as a hurricane, emergency crews are quickly overwhelmed, causing delays of hours or even days. For these reasons, Palm Beach County Emergency Management offers the Community Emergency Response Team course. The basic course consists of 24 hours of training..
The course involves:
Disaster Preparedness: Discussion of various types of major emergencies that may affect South Florida. Familiarization with the Emergency Management System and the process of disaster recovery. Other concepts include “post storm” team operations, facing problems in organizing teams under emergency conditions and operating a neighborhood “command post.” Learn about disaster psychology, damage assessment and documentation.
Disaster Fire Suppression: Learn about basic fire suppression strategies, team and personal safety considerations, fire chemistry, hazardous materials, and fire hazards. The class focus is sizing up the situation, the safe use of fire extinguishers, extinguishing a small fire, and controlling utilities.
Disaster Medical Operations: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques. Also students learn the concepts of evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
Light Search and Rescue Operations: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety.
Disaster Psychology and Team Organization: Students learn the signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker, CERT organization and management principles and the need for documentation.
Terrorism: Participants are introduced to the concept of terrorism as it applies to CERT.
Course Review: Participants review their answers from a take home examination.
Disaster Simulation: Practical (hands on) experience which requires the student to utilize the skills learned over the past four weeks of class, including fire suppression, first aid, triage, and search and rescue.
Coordinating Volunteers is what Citizen Corps is All About
Palm Beach County's Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management launched Citizen Corps to help coordinate the efforts of volunteers working in the field of disaster and emergency services shortly after the 2002 State of the Union speech in which the President asked all Americans to donate 4,000 hours, or the equivalent of 2 years to volunteer service. Since that time, a number of programs to address crime, terrorism, and disaster services have been developed for local citizens.
The Governor of Florida named the Florida Division of Emergency Management as the coordinating State agency for the federal program and Palm Beach County responded to this challenge by partnering with local disaster and emergency agencies to coordinate the education, training, and involvement of volunteers. The assistance of properly trained and equipped volunteers in the field of emergency management is a key to our success. Locally, these efforts are led by the Palm Beach County Citizen Corps Council.
The mission of Citizen Corps is the development of a safer, more disaster resistant community. The goal is to have a readily available pool of “professional volunteers” who know their local areas, and who can help during critical times, especially before other assistance can arrive. To find out how you can help make a difference in your community, contact us today.
For more information about these programs, call